Which country had the first map
Images in history and politics
Dr. Ute Schneider
HD Dr. Ute Schneider, studied history and general linguistics at the University of Düsseldorf; since 2003 university lecturer for modern and contemporary history at the TU Darmstadt; there also editor-in-chief of the "New Political Literature (NPL)"; several monographs, including "Die Macht der Karten" (Darmstadt 2004); "Various projects in the field of cultural and social history
The picture of the world
The student has added another piece of information to their illustration. Instead of drawing mountains, cities, rivers or lakes as usual, she drew people. They may refer to inhabited regions, but they may mean even more. The people are by no means evenly distributed: Africa and South America are heavily populated, the other countries and continents are rather thin. Intuitively and without being asked, the student had inserted knowledge and ideas about the world and the problems of different population densities into her drawing. The figure does not show the extent to which she had the problem of overpopulation and nutrition in her head.
The card phenomenonMaps store knowledge and contain information related to space, but this does not have to be limited to geographical aspects. To this day, the storage of knowledge is mostly tied to institutions such as church and state or to people from the social elite. Maps are therefore always a means and an expression of power, as the American geographer Brian Harley once put it. In addition, to a certain extent, the choice of information depends on the decisions made by the cartographers. And because they too are children of their time, the predominant discourses and worldviews involuntarily flow into their maps. Maps do not depict reality in an "objective" sense, but rather in the sense of contemporary interpretations, norms and contemporary knowledge. Like texts, maps have a surface and so-called sub-texts that can only be understood if the maps are viewed in the context of their time of creation. [Fig. 2, knight; Fig. 3, Stiehler]
Deciphering cartographic messages requires the ability of contemporaries to read maps. This seems natural to us today, but it probably only became a general cultural technique in the course of the 19th century. So far we know very little about the distribution and use of maps among the population. However, it seems that the military and schools, which have become general duties in Europe since the 19th century, also contributed to the spread of cards and thus card reading.
The world map stands for the worldMaps are a fascinating medium that everyone comes into contact with at school at the latest, with the Diercke Atlas and Putzger's Historical World Atlas. Some people even spontaneously remember certain favorite cards, their colors, country outlines or thick black arrows. With these maps in the head we speak of "mental maps" or "cognitive maps", which, however, can also be considerably more than representations of topographical conditions.
Organizational principlesAn important prerequisite for understanding real maps are organizational principles and standards that allow us to read a map like a book. If one disregards language skills and slight differences in the projection, we can orientate ourselves in a Chinese, African or South American world map in the same way as we can understand pictograms without even knowing the language of their draftsman. The fact that reading maps presents us with relatively few problems nowadays is a result of various developments in the early modern period. This is illustrated by a look at medieval European maps of the world. We cannot read them until we know their organizational principles.
Also became islands
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